Note: Learn more about the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating program here or at www.amihungry.com. The opinions expressed here are mine alone and do not reflect any official stance of the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating program.
This is the time for resolutions, many of which involve weight. But generally they’re about losing weight. I wonder how many people resolve to be fat? More specifically, I wonder how many people might make that their new goal after reading the recent article in The New York Times titled “The Fat Trap” by Tara Parker-Pope.
The article does not, after all, paint a very hopeful portrait of life post weight loss. It discusses at great length the physiological changes that make the body primed to gain weight back, and how painstaking it is to maintain those lost pounds.
What surprised and saddened me was that none of the people interviewed talked about achieving their goals without doing things like keeping a daily food journal, tracking calories, eating the same thing almost every day, weighing and measuring food, exercising rigidly for the sole purpose of weight maintenance, or calculating metabolic rate. I realized that those reading the article might think those are their only options: to resolve to be fat, or to lose weight and look forward to a life of deprivation and constant control.
Had I believed that when I first started my journey, I might well have decided not to make the attempt. And for some people, that might be fine, because as the article also points out, it’s possible to be healthy and overweight. While it’s not necessarily socially acceptable, I don’t consider that an automatic reason to lose weight.
I always think of my dad as an example of someone who falls into this category. He’s fat and freely enjoys his food, much of which would not be allowed on a typical diet. He also has good blood pressure, good cholesterol, a healthy heart, normal blood sugar levels, can walk for at least two miles without a problem, and is able to do everything he needs or wants to do. While he is careful not to gain more weight, he is generally unconcerned with what other people think of him and therefore does not currently have any motivation to slim down.
But for me, when I realized that I physically could not do some of the things I wanted, that was what prompted me to finally lose weight. In the interest of full disclosure, I will say that at various points I did count calories, and while I was losing weight I often ate the same foods simply because it was easier. Yet in my nine years of maintaining, I have joyfully experimented with new recipes, never deprived myself of something I truly wanted, been able to get through my days without constantly thinking about food, and successfully kept my weight consistent without weighing myself every day, including two-week trips for work or vacation. How? By listening to my body.
Nor am I alone in this. The Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating approach is similar to the one I used, and the website has many more personal stories. So another alternative is possible.
Perhaps, then, if you’re thinking of a resolution about weight, you might consider instead to resolve how you want to live. For myself, that would be leading a full, rich, rewarding life, free of guilt and shame and deprivation in thoughts towards food, enjoying what I eat and what I can do, and making progress toward goals I can’t yet achieve.
Whatever your own resolution, I sincerely hope that it will make for a very happy New Year.